County commissioners approve $15,000 to help fund West Jefferson centennial
Last modified: Jan. 10
In a 4-1 split decision on Jan. 7, the Ashe County Board of Commissioners approved $15,000 to help West Jefferson plan its 2015 centennial celebration.
Nearly a century ago, a controversy surrounding the location of a railroad depot helped lay the foundations of what would later become West Jefferson.
Jefferson had long been the county's seat, but vacant land west of Jefferson proved too attractive for planners to pass up.
In 2015, that once tiny railroad hub will celebrate its 100th anniversary.
To begin the planning process, the West Jefferson Board of Alderman authorized the creation of a nonprofit corporation that will plan and conduct a celebration for the town's centennial anniversary in 2015.
The funding commissioners approved is meant to aid West Jefferson in planning the event.
“I want to make this clear,” said Ashe County Board of Commissioners Chairman Larry Rhodes. “This event is a celebration of a time period, something of significance. We're not supporting or asking to support a festival, Christmas in July or anything like that. Having the centennial come to (West Jefferson), that's why we're considering it.”
Rhodes said the board will be consistent with any county town that plans a similar event.
Commissioners Gary Roark, William Sands, Judy Poe and Rhodes all voted to approve the funding measure, while Commissioner Gerald Price cast the lone vote in opposition.
“I'm certainly for celebrating the centennial,” said Price. “But at the present time, with no more knowledge that we ... have, I personally would be willing to commit $7,500 to be appropriated at the proper time. As things develop to the point where we see it will really benefit Ashe County in 2015, we can always modify these appropriations or add to them.”
As yet, the group tasked with planning the celebration has released no itinerary or date, but it is being advised by Gene Hafer, chairman of Raleigh's bicentennial celebration committee in 1992.
Despite approving the appropriation, Rhodes said the county retains control about when the funds will be released to West Jefferson.